Kota Kinabalu Activities and Attractions

Snorkelling, Wildlife, Culture, Markets...

Kota Kinabalu, capital city of the Sabah province of Borneo is famed for its stunning sunsets, and sits overlooking the South China Sea with the promenade and waterfront the focal point of the city.Base yourself here for a few days to enjoy the city, and take day tours to surrounding places of interest.

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Kota Kinabalu Waterfront

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Wander along Kota Kinabalu waterfront, through the fish market where simple BBQ’s are fired up... and sizzling skewers of fresh fish are cooking ready for locals and tourists alike to enjoy a cheap tasty meal.

Stop in to have a look in the restaurant featuring walls lined with tanks filled with live fish.

The market is a hive of industry with stalls piled high with

  • colourful tropical fruit and vegetables
  • spices
  • dried fish
  • fabric
  • clothing
  • woodware
and other crafts.

The promenade walk way is lined with old treadle sewing machines.....their owners hanging around waiting for customers.


The boardwalk is the main area with restaurants, bars and cafes all with indoor and outdoor seating.

With many European and Asian restaurants....we chose the Aussie Bar and Restaurant owned by an Australian couple and recommended by a friend.

After sipping a delicious cocktail as we watched the sun go down over the South China Sea.....we dined on some good Aussie fare – pork chops,baked potatoes and salad....our first European style meal in over a month, which somehow tasted extra good under the colourful strings of lights and the sea lapping at the wall beside us.

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With only a few days in Kota Kinabalu we were keen to fit in Kinabalu National Park and some snorkelling.With several nearby islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park considered excellent for snorkeling and diving we could choose from:

  • Mamutik Island
  • Manukan Island
  • Gaya Island
  • Sapi Island


Tunku Abdel Rahmin Marine Park

Different Sabah tours incorporate 2 or three of these islands.

Leaving from Tanjung Aru Resort... many people stop off at Gaya Island for a 2 hour walk through the tropical forest before being picked up to go on to Sapi Island where we decided to spend the whole day.

Snorkelling gear was included and you were given your snorkeling kit, a mat and if you wanted...a life jacket, just before boarding the boat. A buffet BBQ lunch was served on the island.

Snorkelling on Sapi Island

With plenty of shade, this beautiful small island was well set up. The snorkelling area was divided up into sections by ropes.

Many of the locals chose to stay in the shallow area. Beyond the rope in the deep area suitable for competent swimmers, we were enchanted with a colourful underwater garden.

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Beautiful coral of all colours, shapes and structures spread over the sea floor while the multitude of brightly coloured fish swam all around you.....some so friendly I had to hold my hand in front of my face as they swiped my cheek. They come to have a look at you!

Back on land we enjoyed the white sandy beach and our only disappointment was the monitors which are very often out in abundance decided to stay indoors!

It depends on the weather whether they front, and this day was overcast and did eventually rain.....not weather for monitors apparently.

Day Tour to Mt Kinabalu

Mt Kinabalu is popular with climbers and Kota Kinabalu is a natural place to recover after a climb. However, if you are not intending to climb the mountain it is well worth a day tour to Kinabalu National Park where you can enjoy the :

  • Botanical Gardens featuring a selection of vireya rhododendrons, orchids, pitcher plants and other local flora and fanuna.
  • The famous Raffalesia flower is grown here in a protected environment and open to viewing in season
  • Do the Poring Springs canopy walk
  • Bathe at Poring Springs


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How to Get There

We organized a tour – supposed to be a small bus holding no more than 15 so we were not happy when a huge coach arrived. If you are with a group I would suggest it is very cost effective and much more enjoyable to organize a taxi and your own tour.

This also counteracts a long day by cutting out the time taken picking up and dropping off at different hotels.

More Attractions and Activities Near Kota Kinabalu

MARIMARI CULTURAL VILLAGE

Located just 25 minutes from Kota Kinabalu this village will introduce you to local ethnic tribes and their way of life. Enjoy a traditional meal as part of the package.

MONSOPIAD CULTURAL VILLAGE

Considered a living museum this village by the Penampang River is a 30 minute trip from Kota Kinabalu and is home to the Kadazan people. Monsopiad was a fearsome warrior - a headhunter - who lived in the village nearly 200 years ago.

Visit the legendary house of Monsopiad's descendent where the 42 skulls of the warrior's advesaries are kept and see the fascinating exhibits demonstrating the life of Monsopiad.

GREEN CONNECTION AQUARIUM and CONSERVATION AREA

This is a great family destination with plenty to keep the children entertained.

A wide array of insects, snakes and marine life presents an educational yet fun introduction to different ecosystems with a specialist children's section featuring interactive displays.

Located at Mile 2.5 off Jalan Tuaran near Wisma Wanita and St. Johns' Ambulance

WATER WORLD THEME PARK

Another family attraction for those with children is this water park at Kampung Nelayan area.With different pools, water slides and water basketball this should be a relaxed and cooling activity.

FILIPINO CRAFT MARKET

This is another market recommended for handcrafts with over 100 different stalls.Open to bargaining for bulk buys.

GAYA STREET SUNDAY MARKET

Unfortunately we were not in Kota Kinabalu to go to this popular market that features all the fruit, vegetables, batik work etc You will even find antiques here.

LOK KAWI WILDLIFE PARK

If you haven’t already visited a Borneo Wildlife Park you can see all the animals special to Borneo here including tigers, elephants, orangutans, the strange looking proboscis monkeys, and other endangered species .

Borneo is one of the most fascinating travel destinations and there is much to see in Sabah and around Kota Kinabalu. So plan a few days here as you travel the country.

LOK KAWI WILDLIFE PARK

If you haven’t already visited a Borneo Wildlife Park you can see all the animals special to Borneo here including tigers, elephants, orangutans, the strange looking proboscis monkeys, and other endangered species .

Borneo is one of the most fascinating travel destinations and there is much to see in Sabah and around Kota Kinabalu. So plan a few days here as you travel the country.




Mor Borneo Information


Malaysian Borneo

Around Kuching

Mulu National Park

Mulu Caves

Mulu Canopy Walk

Kinabalu National Park

Kinabatangan

Sandakan

Orangutans in Borneo

Borneo Hotels

Brunei


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